In the first reading at mass on Sunday (Isaiah 43: 16-21), Isaiah says:
Remember not the events of the past. The things of long ago consider not. See, I am doing something new!
He is speaking to the Israelites in captivity in Babylon in the sixth century BC.
Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way; in the wasteland, rivers. Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.
For half a century, the Israelites had been living in exile more than 500 miles from their homeland. Psalm 137 recalls the sadness of those years: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.”
It’s hard to know how the people would have reacted to a promise of “something new!” How much hope could they have let themselves feel?
Yet, by the end of the century, they had been freed of their bondage and had returned home.
This is the promise of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s the promise of the cycle of seasons.
In 1981, a young man was sick from smoking too much and drinking too much coffee. A young woman broke her leg sliding into first base in a softball game.
While they were recovering, the two met, and, this year, Cathy and I will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary.
We Christians believe that death leads to life. That when a door closes, another opens.
That, whatever the pains and sorrows and failures and darknesses of existence, God always has ready for us “something new!”
Patrick T. Reardon